New tool kit aids financial recovery after disasters

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Individuals and families now have a tool kit to help them recover financially after experiencing a natural disaster.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension have developed Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, a free, online resource to assist people in pulling the financial pieces of their life back together.

It's available at http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/tough-times/disaster-recovery/family-financial-toolkit.

"At no time in history has there been such a far-reaching occurrence of significant natural disasters," says Ward County Extension agent Lori Scharmer.

"These disasters wreak havoc on the financial well-being of those in their path.

Family financial recovery is a long-term process, and decisions made at the time of a natural disaster affect the financial well-being of survivors for a lifetime."

This hands-on tool kit can help you learn key strategies for financial recovery, identify helpful resources and explore your options as you make financial decisions.

"There are no easy fixes and guarantees, but there are tools available that will help disaster survivors along the road to financial recovery," Scharmer says.

The Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit was developed with input from disaster survivors and those who work closely with them.

The tool kit includes:

* 10 key strategies disaster survivors should know as they begin to work on their financial recovery. The kit provides the tools you need to work on these strategies.

* Checklists on what to do in the first hours and days after the disaster when you return to your property, plus key financial issues and resources related to the cleanup phase of the recovery process

* Worksheets to help you assess your financial situation and make your plan for long-term recovery

* Actions to explore, plus housing assessment tools to use as you work on your

short- and long-term housing needs. The kit has separate units specific to the homeowner and renter. These units provide multiple sources of assistance and resources.

* A section to help you understand that things never will be the same as before the disaster, but eventually you will come to a "new normal"

* Specific disaster resources for North Dakota families

"Just as you do not use all the tools in your tool kit on any one project, disaster survivors can pick and choose individual units, worksheets or tools to use, depending on their situation," Scharmer says.

"Do not try to do too much at one time, and find people who can help you complete key steps toward your recovery," she adds. "Friends and loved ones can assist disaster survivors in both accessing the tool kit and working with them on the financial recovery strategies and tools."



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